Today I am concerned about dry, winter skin; that itchy, scaly, flakiness that seems to affect my legs and arms the most, but also the abdomen and lower back. There are days I have long streaks of scratches from the intense itching. Not a pretty picture. Skin becomes dry and irritated when the air is cold outside and the heat is on inside causing low humidity that sucks the moisture right out.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to manage winter dryness.
First and foremost- hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Nothing quenches thirsty skin than lots of water. Drink at least 6-8 (8oz) glasses of water daily. Some of us will require more. Other liquids like juices and low sodium soups/broths are helpful but water is essential.
Many vitamins are good for the skin. Nourish the skin with vitamins A, B-Complex (particularly Biotin and Niacin), C, D and E. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C helps to hydrate, it also builds collagen which strengthens the skin structure. It keeps the connective tissues flexible and elastic. Vitamins A, D and E are fat-soluble vitamins with many benefits. Vitamin A increases cell turnover; is also linked to the production of glycosaminoglycans which are natural moisturizers. Vitamin E promotes a healthy immune system and also soothes dry skin. B vitamins help retain moisture and form the basis for skin, hair and nails.
Some good food sources for A: apricots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, carrots and spinach. Vitamin C: acerola, red and green bell peppers, guava, kale, parsley, collard greens, turnips and broccoli. Vitamin E: wheatgerm oil, sunflower seeds, safflower and sunflower oils, almonds, spinach, peaches, prunes, tomatoes, cabbage, asparagus, and avocados.
Another lubricating supplement is Omega 3 fish oils. Adding salmon once a week to the diet is good, in addition, fortified eggs and walnuts are excellent sources; but these wonderful foods may not be enough. Purchasing a good fish oil supplement with a high amount of EPA and DHA is very beneficial. I also use coconut oil in my diet, very tasty addition.
Although I advocate a healthy diet to get your vitamins, the wintertime dryness may need some extra help with lotions and potions. There are scores of options on the market today. Sometimes very confusing for which ones actually help. Look for ones that contain the essential vitamins and fatty acids. Our Vanilla & Chocolate Body Butter with Lavender is an excellent choice for dry, itchy skin. Made with Shea Butter, Cocoa butter, Coconut Oil and Sweet Almond Oil with Vitamin E Oil added, along with Lavender Essential Oil. It leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth as it is very emollient. Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers with emollients. Here again, coconut oil topically works well. Apply the moisturizers within three to five minutes of bathing when the skin is still damp; this helps seal in the moisture on the skin. Using a humidifier in your home can also do wonders.
Some things to avoid are very hot showers/baths and smoking or second-hand smoke. These may aggravate your skin, causing redness, increased dryness and itchiness. Processed foods may also have a detrimental impact. Also avoid caffeine and alcohol as these are dehydrating.
Managing dry, itchy Winter skin can be very challenging. It takes a healthy diet and some good topical treatments to alleviate the irritations and provide a smoother, softer, moister skin.
Always discuss with your Personal Healthcare Provider regarding any supplements you may want to take. Occasionally there are some interactions with certain medications.